Martin Village Shop - Now Open!

Over the last couple of months I have assisted Beth and Janet from Martin Village Shop, prior to their grand opening this morning.

The shop is an extension of the work started by Future Farms in Martin, so will sell their own fruit and vegetables and meat, but complementing this with a range of groceries and non-food products for people to buy. There is also a strong emphasis on goods produced in the immediate local area, so this means chutneys and jams from Damerham and biscuits from Sandleheath to give just two examples.

My role has been to act as a retail advisor, covering a huge range of subjects from how to display goods on which shelves to which wholesalers supply which products. I have also offered access to our suppliers who have a high minimum order which often excludes small retailers ordering from them - I know that was the case when we opened Abbey Stores.

The opening hours for now are Monday to Friday, 9am to 11am and 5pm to 6pm, with Saturday morning 9am to 12pm. The shop is manned entirely by volunteers from the village and the surrounding area and is located in a purpose-fitted room at one side of the village hall - apparently the former chair and table store!

I wish the shop every success for the future and hope it thrives and prospers. The more village shops that are trading successfully the more popular they will come, to the detriment of the supermarkets and their all-pervading penetration of the retail market.
The crowds gather before the ribbon is cut.

Its been a long time...

since my last post and also since I last drove a long motorway journey. So it is fitting that I should celebrate both with an "incident" on the M40 and a blog post to explain all.

On Tuesday, when I arrived into work at Coombe Bissett at 7am to open up, my tills were not working. This was obviously a big worry becuase we rely heavily on our EPoS system, not just for stock control but also for cash management, customer accounts, VAT calculations and returns, sales figures and so on. So with some trepidation about what I might find I went briefly into the office where the main server is kept to find a Windows BSoD. That is, the Blue Screen of Death that denotes the fact that your machine, the one you rely on, has just crashed out of doing what it is supposed to do and now needs major surgery and attention. Deep joy.

By this time I had a stream of customers also needing my attention so switching over to the trusty sheet of A4 and a pencil I started to write down every item I was selling for later inputting to the system when it finally came back into the land of the living. A time consuming exercise but without this we would have no record of what had been sold when the system was down.

Over the next couple of hours staff arrived to help and in due course it was diagnosed by the supplier that the server's hard drive had failed in the night, it would not be possible simply to fit a new one as there would need to be data installed on it first such as the EPoS software and databases, etc etc. Therefore the only option was for a courier to collect the dead server, take it back to Nottingham where the offices are, for the work to be done and then deliver it back to CB.

By my reckoning it could easily be Thursday or Friday until we were trading properly again, during which time we would still need to either write everything down or possibly trade from a single, reserve till point. This was set up during the morning but is not really enough in a busy shop when there is added pressure from needing orders generated - things normally done in the back office.

So I decided to take the van up to Nottingham to the supplier's offices, have the work done, and possibly be back that night or certainly the following morning. Shaving a lot of time off the problem and getting me out the shop for a few hours as an added bonus. What could possibly go wrong???